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Wielenberg's Defense of Non-Natural, Non-Theistic Moral Realism

On another occasion, I mentioned a review of Wielenberg's "In Defense of Non-Natural, Non-Theistic Moral Realism", ( Faith and Philosophy 29:1 (2009), pp. 23-41) in Philosopher's Digest. Here is a link to Wielenberg's paper itself. The paper offers an undercutting defeater for claims made by Copan, Craig, Moreland, et al. that atheism can't provide an adequate meta-ethical basis for morality.

Early Christmas Treats

This is turning out to be a jolly little Christmas season for me. My Ph.D. diploma came about a week ago. Then, the other night, a package was delivered to my doorstep. It was a box containing several bound copies of my dissertation (Guess what my parents and in-laws are getting for Christmas?). Now if I can just get a call from a search committee for a tenure-track job interview...

Hume's Abject Failure? Millican's Reply to Earman

In Hume's Abject Failure, John Earman offered a book-length critique of Hume's case against justified (testimony-based) belief in miracles. Peter Millican (Hertford College, Oxford) has offered a careful reply. Here is the link, and here is the abstract:

The centrepiece of Earman’s provocatively titled book Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles (OUP, 2000) is a probabilistic interpretation of Hume’s famous ‘maxim’ concerning the credibility of miracle reports, followed by a trenchant critique of the maxim when thus interpreted. He argues that the first part of this maxim, once its obscurity is removed, is simply trivial, while the second part is nonsensical. His subsequent discussion culminates with a forthright challenge to any would-be defender of Hume to ‘point to some thesis which is both philosophically interesting and which Hume has made plausible’. My main aim here is to answer this challenge, by demonstrating a preferable interpretation of Hume’s maxim…

The Epistemology of Disagreement and Rationally Permissible Theistic Belief

Alvin Plantinga has asserted that if, after careful consideration of the evidence for and against a proposition, P, one still finds P persuasive, then one is in one's epistemic rights in believing P.[1] Relatedly, Peter van Inwagen has asserted that one can be justified in believing P, despite being unable to convince a true epistemic peer, if she enjoys an incommunicable insight into the evidence for P that her epistemic peer lacks.[2]

A key implication of Plantinga's and van Inwagen's theses is supposed to be that a theist can be epistemically justified or epistemically blameless in believing in God if, despite the existence of genuine epistemic peer disagreement, they have carefully considered the evidence for and against such belief, and still find that belief persuasive (Plantinga), perhaps in virtue of an incommunicable insight into the evidence for theism that their epistemic peers lack (van Inwagen).

The problem is that recent work in the epistemology of disagreement…

Evan Fales' New Book

Evan Fales' book, Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles, should be out on Dec. 9th. Here's the blurb:

This study is a new look at the question of how God can act upon the world, and whether the world can affect God, examining contemporary work on the metaphysics of causation and laws of nature, and current work in the theory of knowledge and mysticism. It has been traditional to address such questions by appealing to God’s omnipotence and omniscience, but this book claims that this is useless unless it can be shown how these two powers "work." Instead of treating the familiar problems associated with omnipotence and omniscience, this book asks directly whether, and how, causal interactions between God and His world could occur: both between God and the physical world (miracles) and between God and other minds (mystical experience), as well as between the world and God (divine perception). Fales examines current thinking (which is diverse) about…

Wielenberg's New Paper in Philosophia Christi

I'm currently thinking about Erik Wielnberg's paper, "Dawkins's Gambit, Hume's Aroma, and God's Simplicity" (Phil. Christi, 11:1 (2009), pp. 113-128). The paper can be found here.

I have mixed feelings about the paper: I like it, but it overlaps considerably with a paper I'm currently working on, making my paper a bit redundant!

Review of Jack Ritchie's Understanding Naturalism

David Macarthur (University of Sydney) reviews the book for NDPR. Here's the link.

Like me, Macarthur holds to a "liberal" conception of naturalism. The following passage from MacArthur's review captures my sentiments about more conservative forms of naturalism:

"Ritchie's strategy of taking up a position within the landscape of current scientific naturalism, however, leads to a blindspot about the range of viable naturalisms on offer in contemporary philosophy. He misses the possibility of a non-scientific or liberal naturalism that is arguably associated with such leading philosophers as Dewey, McDowell, Putnam and Wittgenstein. Such naturalism lies in the largely unexplored conceptual space between scientific naturalism and supernaturalism. It allows that one can respect science without supposing that science is our only resource for understanding humanity. Not everything that exists is explicable, or fully explicable, by science. There are many things in o…

Erik Baldwin's Interesting Paper on Plantinga's Model of Warranted Christian Belief

Erik Baldwin is a graduate student at Purdue. He's also a visiting graduate student at Notre Dame, doing research at their Center for Philosophy of Religion. In his paper "Could the Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model Defeat Basic Christian Belief?", (Philosophia Christi 8:2 (2006), pp. 383-399), he raises concerns about Plantinga's model of warranted Christian belief. In the process, he does an excellent job of clarifying Plantinga's account.

P.S., Recall that Erik Baldwin is the one who co-authored this nice paper with Michael Thune (one of his former fellow grad students at Purdue).

The November Issue of Jobs for Philosophers: Doom

Well, it's official: This is the worst job season since at least the formation of the American Philosophical Association. The publication of the October issue of the APA's Jobs for Philosophers marks the official beginning of the year's philosophy hiring season. The number of jobs listed in that issue is down roughly 50 percent from 2008 (256 jobs, down from 507 jobs), and that was a bad year.

To make matters worse, the newly-released November issue of JfP has just 18 -- 18! -- new positions posted. Guesstimating, if you add to the newly-minted PhDs (e.g., me) the ABDs, the people who didn't get a job the last couple of seasons, and the tenured or tenure-track people seeking to switch institutions this year, there are probably about 1,000 job candidates on the market.

Fuck.

UPDATE: I stand corrected: this is not the worst job season on APA record (see the comments of the anons at 4:54PM (NOV. 7th) and 12:46AM (Nov. 8th).

Link to Videos of the Recent "My Ways Are Not Your Ways" Conference at Notre Dame

Recently, the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion held an important conference discussing the prima facie (I would say "ultima facie") morally problematic character of the God of the Old Testament (e.g., God-endorsed genocide). The conference was entitled, "My Ways Are Not Your Ways: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible", and many leading figures in philosophy of religion presented papers. The videos for all the talks can be found here.

Stephen Maitzen's New Paper on God and Morality

We've noted Stephen Maitzen's excellent work in philosophy of religion on another occasion, but I'd like to note that he has since written and posted some more nice papers. His most recent paper, "Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism" (European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (2009): 107-126) can be found here. Links to most of his other papers can be found here.

Btw, some time soon, I'd like to get a discussion going on his novel argument in "Anselmian Atheism", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. LXX, No. 1 (January 2005), pp. 225-239.

Interesting Recent Exchange on the Problem of Natural Evil

Alexander Bird is known for his work on dispositional essentialism and, relatedly, his arguments for the metaphysical necessity of the laws of nature (a view which is growing in acceptance among philosophers, I might add).

Recently, Bird had an exchange with Michael Bertrand on the problem of natural evil in The Australasian Journal of Philosophy. The exchange is based on some brief remarks at the end of Bird's paper, "Unexpected A Posteriori Necessary Laws of Nature", Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83:4 (December 2005), pp. 533-548. Bertrand's reply, "God Might Be Responsible for Physical Evil", AJP 87:3 (September 2009), pp. 513-515 can be found here (requires subscription for access), and (the pre-print version of) Bird's rejoinder, "...And Then Again, He Might Not Be", AJP 87(2009), pp. 517-521, can be found here.

I find Bird's reply to the problem of natural evil the most plausible. Unfortunately, as he points out, it comes at a …

Excellent Recent Critique of the "Big Bang" Version of the Kalam argument

Pitts, J. Brian. "Why the Big Bang Singularity Does Not Help the Kalam Cosmological Argument for Theism", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2008), pp. 675-708. Here is the link.

Perhaps it's worth noting that unlike William Lane Craig, James Brian Pitts actually has a PhD in physics.

UPDATE: Commenter "Pastor Tom" has kindly pointed out that Craig has offered a reply to Pitts. Here is the link. I leave it to the reader to decide whether Craig's reply is adequate.

Non-Physicalistic Materialism: Follow-Up Questions to Those from the Previous Post

Continuing the discussion from the previous post:

There are a lot of issues to untangle and sort out here.

 Let me start with this: Suppose there is just one kind of substance, and it has both ordinary physical properties and informational/representational properties essentially and fundamentally. Suppose further that it's an uncreated, eternal, and at least de facto indestructible substance (since it's a "free-standing", metaphysically independent sort of stuff, and it turns out that nothing else that exists in our world has what it takes to annihilate it). Call this "The Quasi-Spinozistic View".

On The Quasi-Spinozistic view, then, consciousness and other mental properties don't emerge from, and aren't caused by, the physical. Furthermore, no god is required to create such properties, anymore than a god is needed to make its physical properties. Finally, there's no special problem about where this substance came from or why it exists. For it n…

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Question:

Is there some special reason to think that non-physical concreta can't -- or even probably wouldn't -- exist if theism weren't true? In particular, why think it's even slightly more likely than not that theism is true if, say, the mental or quasi-mental is a fundamental feature of concrete substances?

Just to be clear: The hypothesis on the table isn't that the mental supervenes upon or emerges from the physical. Rather, the hypothesis is that the mental or quasi-mental is part of the bedrock of concrete reality.

Thoughts?

UPDATE: Here is a link to the SEP entry on neutral monism. It also includes helpful descriptions of somewhat similar views (e.g., panpsychism, dual aspect theory, neo-Russellianism, etc.). Non-physicalistic naturalist views of concreta such as these seem to me to pose one sort of problem for apologetical arguments from consciousness to theism.

The 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology

The 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology

Organized by
Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers)
Michael Rota (University of St. Thomas)

Recent PhDs and current graduate students in philosophy, theology, or religious studies are invited to apply to participate in the 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology. Twenty participants will be selected; each will receive a stipend of $2,800 and will be provided with accommodations and meals for the duration of the seminar. (Regrettably, funding for travel costs cannot be provided.)

Seminar Dates: June 15 - July 2, 2010

Location: University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Topics and Speakers

The epistemology of religious belief Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame) and Richard Feldman (Rochester)

Science and religion Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame) and Elliott Sober (UW-Madison)

The cosmological argument Alexander Pruss (Baylor) and Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame)

The problem of evil Peter …

Jobs for Philosophers

Hi gang,

Sorry for the dearth of posts as of late. I recently (Spring 2009) got my Ph.D. in Philosophy, and this is my first (and, if things go well, last!) serious run on the Philosophy job market, which officially began yesterday with the publication of the October issue of Jobs for Philosophers. Unfortunately for myself and others going on the market, this is the worst job season in a few decades. In any case, polishing my dossier and sending out applications (on top of teaching and family matters) is pretty much all-consuming, and will be so for a good while. As such, posting may well be light for about a month or two.

Wish me luck!
EA

Ok, One More Time, People...

In response to the effects of the California budget crisis on the University of California system, George Lakoff explains how California got into its current mess, and how we can get out of it. Learn it, know it, live it.

Hope!

I saw Hope Sandoval in concert the other night, in promotion of her new album, Through the Devil Softly:




Words fail.

Life's too short not to catch one of her shows -- God knows when she'll be touring again.

Baldwin and Thune's Recent Paper

Here's yetanotherexample of the relevance of the current epistemology of disagreement debate to issues in philosophy of religion. Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune offer a defeater for properly basic belief in God in "The Epistemological Limits of Experience-Based Exclusive Religious Belief", Religious Studies 44 (2008), pp. 445-455.[1]

Here's the abstract:

Alvin Plantinga and other philosophers have argued that exclusive religious belief can be rationally held in response to certain experiences – independently of inference to other beliefs, evidence, arguments, and the like – and thus can be ‘properly basic’. We think that this is possible only until the believer acquires the defeater we develop in this paper, a defeater which arises from an awareness of certain salient features of religious pluralism. We argue that, as a consequence of this defeater, continued epistemic support for exclusive religious belief will require the satisfaction of non-basic epistemic criteria…

Otte and Plantinga's Recent Exchange on the Free Will Defense

Richard Otte is a philosopher of religion at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work is characterized by applying the probability calculus to issues surrounding the rationality of belief in God. One can find links to many of his papers here.

Otte had an exchange with Plantinga on the latter's famous Free Will Defense (FWD) in a recent issue of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. In Otte's paper, he shows that Plantinga's definition of transworld depravity (TWD) is necessarily false(!). However, Otte goes on to offer an alternative notion that plays a similar role in Plantinga's FWD. Interestingly, Plantinga agrees with Otte's points.

Below are links to the papers:

Otte, Richard. "Transworld Depravity and Unobtainable Worlds", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78:1, pp. 165-177.

Plantinga, Alvin. "Transworld Depravity, Transworld Sanctity, and Uncooperative Essences", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78:1, pp. 178-191…

Neil A. Manson

Neil A. Manson is a philosopher at the University of Mississippi. One of his primary research interests is the design argument, especially the argument from fine-tuning. He is the editor of God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science, and is the author of a number of excellent articles on the topic. Interestingly, although he is now a critic of the argument from fine-tuning, he appears to have once been a proponent it. On this, see his dissertation, Why Cosmic Fine-Tuning Needs to be Explained.

One can find his articles on the argument at his department webpage. For those unfamiliar with the argument, perhaps the best point of entry is his paper on the design argument written for undergraduates. After that, take a look at his Introduction to the God and Design volume. It provides a very clear and helpful overview of the key issues involved in the debate over various versions of the design argument, including the fine-tuning argument. From there, move on to his paper,…

A Problem for Plantinga's Proper Functionalism

The Argument: If theism is true, then, probably, none of our beliefs have warrant. But surely many of our beliefs do have warrant; therefore, probably, theism is false.

The Argument Expanded: If theism is true, then Plantinga's account of warrant is probably correct. Now, roughly, Plantinga analyzes warrant in terms of beliefs formed by properly functioning, (successfully) truth-aimed cognitive faculties in congenial epistemic environments. However, he rejects naturalistic accounts of function, instead requiring essential appeal to intentional design in any adequate account of function.[1] However, he also thinks God is a person with cognitive faculties, and that his faculties weren't designed. Therefore, on his own account, they lack functions, in which case, a fortiori, they can't function properly. But if not, then on his own account, God's beliefs lack warrant. But if God's beliefs lack warrant, then it's hard to make intelligible the notion of God as a com…

The Devil's Lying Wonders

I just finished reading an interesting paper.

Assume, at least arguendo, that Humean arguments against the rationality of belief in miracles fail. Would it then be rational to believe that a given miracle is from God? John Beaudoin (Northern Illinois University) argues "no" in "The Devil's Lying Wonders" (Sophia 46:2 (2007), pp. 111-126). Here is the abstract:

That demonic agents can work wonders is a staple of much Judeo-Christian theology. Believers have proposed various means by which the Devil's work can be distinguished from the miracles wrought by God, primarily so that no one is led astray by the Devil's 'lying wonders. I consider the likelihood of our using the suggested criteria with any success. Given certain claims about the demonic nature and certain facts about the way theists often handle the problem of inscrutable evil, it seems unlikely that any of the criteria I examine can be relied upon.

In Memoriam: William P. Alston

I learned, via Prosblogion (and Leiter Reports), that William P. Alston passed away today. Alston was a leading philosopher of religion (see esp. his excellent book, Perceiving God), and also made outstanding contributions in epistemology (see, e.g., Epistemic Justification and Beyond "Justification") and philosophy of language (see, especially, Illocutionary Acts and Sentence Meaning). I have learned, and continue to learn, much from his excellent work.

Review of Wielenberg's Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe

John Cottingham (University of Reading, Emeritus) reviews the book for NDPR, here. Wielenberg's book is an excellent critique of the common apologetic argument that without God, value and meaning cannot be accounted for.

Btw, Cottingham has a new book out defending religious belief: Why Believe?. The recent book seems to be continuous with two of his previous books: On the Meaning of Life and The Spiritual Dimension.

More Lolcat Weekend Funnies

Lolcat Weekend Funnies

On Craig's Standard Reply to Mackie on the Kalam Cosmological Argument

(slightly revised and reposted)

Suppose one were to believe in the possibility of a beginningless past on the basis of the following inference:

1. Every finite subset of events in a beginningless past is traversable.
2. Therefore, the whole set of events in a beginningless past is traversable.

This is obviously a bad reason for that belief. For to infer (2) from (1) is to commit the fallacy of composition.

Interestingly, William Lane Craig attributes this fallacious inference to the late J.L. Mackie in reply to Mackie's criticism of the Kalam argument in the latter's The Miracle of Theism.[1] It's perhaps worth noting that Craig repeats this reply to Mackie's criticism in virtually all of his books and contributing chapters in which he defends the kalam cosmological argument. Furthermore, Mackie's is arguably the main criticism he raises to his argument in these writings.

I think Craig's characterization of Mackie's criticism of the kalam argument here is mista…

Lolcats Bible Translation Project

My favorite version of the Bible is the Lolcats Version, here. As the name suggests, it's a version of the Bible written completely in lolspeak. A couple of basic translations to help you on your way: Yahweh is denoted by 'Ceiling Cat', and the Devil is denoted by 'Basement Cat'. Here's a sampling from Genesis 1.

You're welcome.

UPDATE: Here is a list of arguments for and against the existence of God in lolspeak. Gold, pure gold.

UPDATE: Did you know you can follow Ceiling Cat on Twitter? Now you do.

Facebook

I'm tentatively experimenting with a Facebook page. If the experiment turns out to be worthwhile, I'll keep the page and start linking my blog posts over there as well. Please feel free to search for my page there and "friends" me, if you'd like.

Moreland, the Kalam Argument, and a Beginningless Past, Part 4

Moreland offers one more argument against beginningless traversals -- one he says was suggested to him by Dallas Willard (his mentor at USC). After a brief discussion of the nature of causal sequences, and how any given event depends on the actualization of every event in the causal sequence that led up to it, he expresses the argument as follows:

"...the present moment has as its ultimate chain of causal antecedents the entire history of the cosmos. If any past event has not already been actualized, then the present moment could not have occurred. This means that the past is actual and contains a specifiable, determinate number of events. This chain of events must have had a first member. Without a first member, there could be no second, third, or nth member in the chain where the nth member is the present event. But an infinite succession of past events would not have a determinate number of members nor would it have a first member. So if the past is actually infinite, the prese…

Moreland, the Kalam Argument, and a Beginningless Past, Part 3

Moreland offers an Aristotelian solution to one of Zeno's paradoxes as the basis of an argument against a beginningless past. Moreland sets up Zeno's Dichotomy paradox as follows:

"...Consider a runner who begins at some point A and who wishes to reach the midpoint between A and B. But before he can reach this midpoint, he must reach the midpoint of the midpoint. In order to move from any point to any other point, a runner must traverse an infinite number of points and this is impossible. Thus, [concludes Zeno] motion is an illusion."[1]

Moreland then argues that a structurally identical paradox applies to the hypothesis of a beginningless universe: he argues that if the past were beginningless, then the prospects of traversing all the events of the past to reach the present moment would be like those of Zeno's runner on the assumption that his task involved the traversal of an actual infinite: one couldn't even begin such a task, much less finish it.[2]

So Mor…

Morriston's New Critique of Divine Command Ethics

Wes Morriston's latest paper, "What if God Commanded Something Terrible? A Worry for Divine-Command Meta-Ethics (Religious Studies 45 (2009), pp. 249-67), is now available at his department webpage. Here is the link.

It's worth mentioning that, along the way, Morriston critiques Robert Adams' version of divine command theory in his Finite and Infinite Goods, which is arguably the most sophisticated version of the theory.

Moreland, the Kalam Argument, and a Beginningless Past, Part 2

Here's another argument Moreland offers for the finitude of the past in Scaling the Secular City:

"...suppose a person were to think backward through the series of events in the past...Now he will either come to a beginning or he will not. If he comes to a beginning, then the universe obviously had a beginning. But if he never could, even in principle, reach a first moment, then this means that it would be impossible to start with the present and run backward through all the events in the history of the cosmos...But since events really move in the other direction, this is equivalent to admitting that if there was no beginning, the past could have never been exhaustively traversed to reach the present. Counting to infinity through the series 1, 2, 3, ... involves the same number of steps as does counting down from infinity to zero through the series -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0. In fact this second series may be even more difficult to traverse than the first. Apart from the fact that …

Moreland, the Kalam Argument, and a Beginningless Past, Part I

J.P. Moreland offers the following argument against a beginningless past in Scaling the Secular City:

"It is impossible to count to infinity. For if one counts forever and ever, he will still be, at every moment, in a place where he can always specify the number he is currently counting. Furthermore, he can always add one more member to what he has counted and thereby increase the series by one. A series formed by successive addition is a potential infinite. Such a series can increase forever without limit, but it will always be finite. This means that the past must have been finite. For the present moment is the last member of the series of past events formed by successive addition. And since one cannot reach infinity one at a time, then if the past was actually infinite, the present moment could not have been reached. For to come to the present moment, an actual infinite would have to have been crossed." (p. 29, my copy. Italics added)

We can express the argument a bit more …

Moreland on the Kalam Cosmological Argument

I recently re-read J.P. Moreland's defense of the kalam cosmological argument in his classic apologetics text, Scaling the Secular City. Good Lord.

Virtually all his arguments against the traversability of actual infinites presuppose that any traversal must have a beginning. In other words, he just blatantly begs the question against the possibility of a beginningless past. At least Craig offers arguments against the possibility of beginningless traversals, viz., his "immortal counter" reductio and his variation on the Tristram Shandy Paradox (which, unfortunately, have been decisively critiqued by (e.g.) Wes Morriston -- here, for example). I hope to discuss Moreland's arguments in detail some time soon.

UPDATE: Here is a link to a detailed discussion of Moreland's arguments against the traversability of a beginningless past.

Amsterdam

Here is my postcard to you from Amsterdam, as promised. Wish I could move here.

Yurp

Hi gang,

What kind of friend would be if I didn't send you a postcard? Here ya' go. Today I'm off to Giverny to take a peek at Monet's gardens. After that, I'm off to Amsterdam for two days. I hope to send you another postcard when I get there. From there, I go to the philosophy conference for two days at the university of Cologne. Then I'm back to the States on the 30th.


Hope all is well with you and yours,
EA

Wes Morriston on Genocide and the Old Testament

Here is Wes' recent paper, "Did God Command Genocide? A Challenge to the Biblical Inerrantist", Philosophia Christi 11:1 (2009), pp. 7-26.

This paper really needed to be written.

UPDATE: Paul Copan has written a rejoinder to Morriston's paper. It can be found here. A tip of the hat to TKD for the link. I leave it to the reader to decide whether Copan's reply is adequate.

Marilyn McCord Adams on Philosophy Bites

Marilyn McCord Adams discusses the problem of evil, and the problem of horrendous evil in particular, on the current podcast episode of Philosophy Bites. Interestingly, she argues that being a theist is a necessary precondition for having rational hope in a good future for humanity, given the persistence and pervasiveness of horrendous moral evil.

Marilyn Adams is a prominent philosopher of religion, along with her husband, Robert Adams. Both recently taught at Oxford, but have since accepted senior offers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (starting next Fall).

Paul Moser's The Elusive God...

...is receiving careful exposition and discussion at Prosblogion. Here is the latest installment.

Paul K. Moser is the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Loyola University (Chicago). His recent book, The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology, is a novel and important defense of Christian theism.

Btw, he has another novel defense of Christian theism (The Evidence for God: Religious Knowledge Reexamined) coming out in December. It looks as though he will argue that the evidence for the Christian God is the moral transformation of believers.

Conservative Christian Theism and the Argument from Non-Obviousness

Here's an argument I'm toying with. Note: it's very rough -- lots of cleaning up to do, qualifications to make, etc. At this point, I just want to get the basic point on the table and (hopefully) get some feedback.

Some apologists today describe the epistemic force of the case for theism in very modest terms: Christians are within their epistemic rights in believing in God. This sort of view allows that while it can be reasonable to be a theist, it can also be reasonable to be a non-theist.[1]

Apologists who make these sorts of claims are often conservative Christians -- people who believe that, e.g., Paul's epistles are accurately recorded in the New Testament. However, I'm not sure I see how these two views can fit together coherently. For Paul seems to have thought that it's not possible for a normal adult to be a rational non-theist. In fact, he seems to think that such non-belief is only possible by illicitly suppressing the truth about what one knows about…